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Signs of a New Normal: Environmental Graphic Design's Critical Role

19 May 2020

When considering signage solutions for your own office, it is important to think about what the public’s response will be to them. For instance, standard colors and typography that people generally associate with “warning” or “alarm” graphics should be avoided, and it’s important to weigh their appropriateness in the space. Colors such as black, red, and yellow and large, bold all caps type can cause unneeded stress at a time when people are already stressed enough.

At Dyer Brown, we are taking a more holistic approach to COVID-19 signage by referencing an interior’s visual language and an organization’s brand identity to create a solution that feels integrated into the space. Forecasting the employees’ comfort level is also at the forefront of our design process. Using appropriate colors and typography ensures that these graphics offer guidance while creating a safe environment at work.

In addition to creating solutions that are on-brand for our clients, we also understand the need for a solution that is customizable even if it’s not fully custom. We’ve developed a signage package considering every decision point, from a building entry to an employee’s workstation, and share it with recommended typeface and color options that we can select for our clients. Our options are simply type, color, and shape and don’t include iconography that might come across as too playful during a crisis. We are also exploring approaches to assist people who are visually impaired, such as adding tactile arrows on walls and using floor graphic products with a distinguishable surface finish. The result needs to be approachable and an important reminder to employees as they navigate their spaces post-pandemic.

Social distancing graphics and directional wayfinding need to be clear to avoid right-of-way confusion or awkward (sometimes even aggressive) confrontations. This is particularly true for employees in a client-facing role, where they should not have to be put in a position to tell customers where to walk or stand. Establishing rules through signage, whether it be lanes, directional arrows, or calls to action, makes the process easier on everyone. It’s possible to reinforce safety without having it feel forced, and integrated signage does just that.

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Dyer Brown Architects

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